A baby food facility in Sturgis, Michigan, which resumed production less than two weeks ago after a months-long shutdown that exacerbated a nationwide famine, has re-closed after parts of the facility were flooded during a severe storm.
Abbott Nutrition, the company that operates the facility, said on Wednesday it was forced to halt production of its EleCare specialty formula at Sturgis, one of its five manufacturing facilities after severe weather conditions hit southwest Michigan on Monday.
In February, Abbott closed the facility and recalled batches of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare formulas after the Food and Drug Administration received four consumer complaints about bacterial infections related to the formula.
At least two babies have died, but Abbott said there is no evidence that his formula caused any known infant illness.
On Wednesday, the company said it was assessing damage from the storm and clearing the facility, which will delay production and distribution by several weeks, but has enough EleCare and most of its proprietary and metabolic formulas to meet demand. A new formula is available.
These products are delivered to consumers in need in coordination with healthcare professionals.
Robert M. Califf, F.D.A. The commissioner said the agency had been briefed on the halt but wasn’t expected to have much of an impact given production alongside increased formula imports from Abbott and other manufacturers.
“While this is an unfortunate setback and a reminder that natural weather events can also cause unforeseen supply chain disruptions, I want to reassure consumers that all government efforts to increase supply mean we will have more than enough products to meet current demand. He said in a statement on Twitter.
He made similar remarks at a Senate committee hearing on Thursday, and the F.D.A. was working closely with Abbott to get the facility up and running “as soon as possible”.
The storm cut off electricity and caused wind damage, and the city’s municipal airport recorded 1.5 inches of rain, the Sturgis Journal reported.
The factory outage was the latest twist on baby food shortages in the United States, which began earlier this year when supply chain issues related to the pandemic, including shortages of some ingredients, made it harder for parents to find a formula.
Abbott said it increased production at other manufacturing sites in the United States and one manufacturing facility in Ireland after the February shutdown.
Abbott and other manufacturers are ramping up production as the government relaxes import regulations. F.D.A.’s Dr. “This means that even before the Sturgis plant went back into production, the total amount of formula available exceeded the formula demand before the recall,” Califf said. said the commissioner.
On June 4, Abbott said it had restarted production of EleCare at its Sturgis facility for an expected release to consumers around June 20 and is “working hard” to restart production of Similac and other formulas. But after the flood, that timing seems uncertain.
“Once the plant is resterilized and production resumes, we will restart production of EleCare, followed by custom and metabolic formulas,” the company said in a statement late Wednesday. In parallel, we will work to restart Similac production at the facility as soon as possible.”
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The baby food shortage had threatened to become a political and public health disaster. President Biden introduced the Defense Production Act to increase production, allowing the use of DoD aircraft for “Operation Flight Formula.”
In May, the first of a series of international shipments of baby food flew to the United States as part of the program to speed up imports and start stockpiling in stores. The White House said the seventh shipment will be made on Thursday when Nestlé formula flies from Switzerland to Louisville, Ky.